The return of the traditional Australia Day celebrations in Warrnambool's Botanic Gardens is under review by the city council.
The council says it has initiated discussions with the region's First Nations Peoples about making the Australia Day event a stronger reflection of what it is to be an Australian.
The gardens event was not held during the pandemic and, despite many community events reverting to pre-COVID times, the council-run Australia Day ceremony didn't return to the gardens this year as some had expected.
Some people turned up to the gardens assuming the event would have returned only to find it hadn't been revived.
A city council spokesman said over the years fewer people were turning out for the Australia Day celebration at the gardens.
"In 2021, the event was successfully relocated to the Civic Green, primarily to comply with COVID rules," he said.
"In 2022 a decision was made to hold the event at the Lighthouse Theatre and this was also well received by those who attended."
The council made a decision to also hold the 2023 Australia Day event at the Lighthouse Theatre.
Mayor Debbie Arnott had told The Standard before the event the awards had transitioned to become community awards that were independent of the January 26 Australia Day activities.
"The change recognises that the awards are strong enough to stand on their own and also acknowledges that the way in which the community views January 26 is changing," Cr Arnott said.
There is an ongoing discussion in relation to the purpose and intent of Australia Day, and what it represents for Australian citizens including First Nations peoples.- City council spokesman
The council spokesman said for several years, issues of inclusion and appropriateness of celebrations on Australia Day had been raised nationally across various platforms, civic groups, the media and peak bodies.
"There is an ongoing discussion in relation to the purpose and intent of Australia Day, and what it represents for Australian citizens including First Nations peoples," the spokesman said.
"For many people - both First Nations peoples and those of non-Aboriginal heritage - January 26 evokes a mix of emotions.
"Based on principles of self-determination, any proposal to move forward requires feedback from First Nations peoples on how and where they want to speak their truth."
The council has initiated discussions with the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation and Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative to seek feedback from the First Nations community on how the council can support culturally appropriate programs that are inclusive.
"These discussions will continue in the future and will assist the council and the Warrnambool community to gain an understanding of how we can make Australia Day a stronger reflection of what it is to be an Australian," the spokesman said.